January 8, 2014

beginner-metal-projectsAly and I were looking for a fun metal project to do as a gift for her mom. After some thought, Aly and her brother came up with the idea to make a jewelry tree. This was Aly's first metal project ever and she did an amazing job. Plasma cutting and welding were much easier than she thought they would be.

Time: This project can be done in 2 to 4 hours

Cost: Metal : About $10 ( We used metal from a local shop named Pacific Steel ) – 16 gauge steel so we can bend the leaves a bit

Difficulty: Beginner

Skills required (Plasma Cutting/Grinding/)

Tools Used:

Hobart 250CI Plasma Cutter – (one of my favorite tools in the shop) – I got mine at Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply.
Orbital Sander
Angle Grinder – (Use Flap Disc and Metal Cutoff Blade)
Optional: Blow Torch – To heat up metal for Patina Process
Optional: Metal Patina – Ferric Nitrate (To color metal with rust colors and maroons
Optional: Metal Patina – Potassium Sulfate  (Black / Dark Brown)
Spray Sealer for Metal (Solvent based)

16×16 sheet of 16 gauge metal
12 Gauge steel to use for base (roughly 6×6 inches)

The Overall Process

The project involved coming up with a design, drawing the tree, plasma cutting, drilling holes to hang earrings, and mounting the tree to a base with epoxy. The project went quickly and was a lot of fun.

First Step

You'll first need to come up with a design. Aly found a tree design that we were able to work with on a computer and enlarge using Adobe Illustrator. We then printed the design on stencil decal vinyl using a Graphtec Vinyl Plotter. You could also use a Cricut vinyl plotter which are very neat tools for crafters. If you don't have a plotter, shoot me an email on the contact us page and I can get you set up with a custom vinyl stencil.

stencil-for-jewelry-treeTrace Design

Trace or draw your design on the 16 gauge metal using a sharpie marker or soap stone pencil. If the metal is greasy first clean it using a rag and a solvent.

tracing-a-design-onto-metalPlasma Cut

Use a plasma cutter to cut out the design. Keep the tip of the plasma cutter about 1/8 of an inch off the metal to create a nice smooth and clean cut. Aly was intimidated by plasma cutting before trying, but quickly learned how fun and simple it is. For this project and all my metal projects I use the Hobart 250ci Plasma Cutter. It plugs into a normal 110v outlet and has worked great for the last 5 years.


Here is a photo of Aly cutting the jewelry tree. Good lighting helps make cutting much easier.

jewelry-tree-metal-projectUp close shot of the tree. A little “slag” is created on the underside and top which can be removed and smoothed out using an angle grinder.


Use an angle grinder with a 60 to 80 grit flap disc to clean up the edges of the tree. Don't forget to clamp the tree to your work surface to keep it from moving around.

simple-plasma-cutting-projectsUse an 80 grit flap disc to grand the surface if you so choose. The steel has a dark grey coating on it when bought. We randomly used the grinder to remove blotches of the film, creating a bark like look.


Use a 1/4 inch drill bit to put holes in the leaves of the tree. You can use the holes to hang earrings.


Use a chisel or pry bar to evenly bend your tree so it stands up vertically.


how-to-bend-metalPlasma Cut the Base

Use your plasma cutter to cut a heavy base for the tree. We used 10 gauge steel and cut it in a random shape that measured about 6″ by 4″.

base-for-jewelry-treeAttach Base

Attach the tree to the base using a clear quick setting epoxy.

how-to-make-a-simple-jewelry-treeClamp the tree to the base and let the glue dry for an hour or two.

easy-plasma-cutting-projectsFine Tune

Bend the leaves and branches to give the tree some character and dimension. Seal the entire piece using a couple thin coats of solvent based metal sealer. We used a Rustoleum sealer that was about $4.00 at Home Depot.

diy-pete-jewelry-treeAdmire Your Work and Let Dry!

jewelry-tree-ideasFinished Jewelry Tree

Woohoo! Your tree is now completed and ready to use. Add a couple felt pads to the base so the metal doesn't scratch the surface you put it on. Your new metal jewelry tree will hold about 16 sets of earrings and a bunch of necklaces.


Let me know what you think of this project. Good luck with your projects and have fun creating!

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